Chef Raymond Li becomes new executive at KAORI Miami
KAORI has named Miami-based chef Raymond Li as its new executive chef. The popular Mediterranean-Asian-inspired restaurant in Brickell is taking an entirely new, fresh approach to modern Asian cuisine with the reinvention of KAORI's signature menu, which debuted in January of this year.
"We are beyond excited to finally be able to share this truly exceptional experience we’ve created at KAORI Miami, with all our guests,” says Diego Pagola, Creative Director of Umai Group & KAORI Miami. “Intention has been a very important factor in our conception of the brand, in creating an environment where our guests can feel welcome and at home. Every pillar put into this project lends to KAORI’s harmonic journey through the senses, led through gastronomy, music, and design.”
Upon arrival, guests will find the entrance to the 4,500 sq. ft. restaurant at the ground level of SLS LUX Brickell, where they will be greeted by KAORI’s signature bar and lounge area. Appealing to those looking for an inviting neighborhood spot with an authentic evening-time vibe, the bar and lounge area also brings an inspired mixture of entertainment, live music, and exotic instrumentals from a wide range of cultures. The music component of the space plays a fundamental role in establishing the identity of KAORI as a whole, lending to the curation of the venue’s full-sensory guest experience. A signature KAORI playlist is also available for anyone to follow, offering guests a unique KAORI takeaway experience that alternates bi-weekly.
Beyond the bar and lounge space, guests will come across a dimly lit staircase, which elegantly links to KAORI’s spacious upstairs dining area. Here, Chef Raymond Li serves as the heartbeat of the restaurant, creating a beautiful balance between modern and time-honored techniques while combining the two worlds of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine. Chef Li unleashes his culinary artistry with a menu that exudes a diverse and sophisticated fusion of flavors, colorful and texturally rich ingredients. Highlighting farm-to-table practices, and the sourcing of local ingredients and quality fresh fish, KAORI’s menu offers an eclectic culinary journey through land and sea.
Aside from an incredible culinary focus, guests can also expect a sublime cocktail, wine, and sake programming. Prominent local bartender, James Mcleenes, serves as KAORI’s lead Bar Manager, where he incorporates a variety of innovative ingredients from different cuisines into the signature cocktail menu. Pulling influence from his residencies in Sydney, New York City, and Miami’s bar scene, James’ approach is minimalist, flavor-focused, with a notable emphasis on execution and elegant presentation. KAORI’s wine and sake offerings are spearheaded by two powerhouse women, Macarena Carrillo and Mariel Dalmau, who double as the founders of the natural wine social club, Grape Crush Miami. Their method creates a sustainable and innovative program, blending classics while simultaneously pushing boundaries.
Esteban Bressan’s vision was brought to life as a collaborative initiative between critically-acclaimed Miami-based design firm Spazio/Bressan and Interior Image Group (IIG), every space within the two-story concept was designed to offer an authentic, harmonic ambiance to enhance the guest’s overall experience, that is: the KAORI experience. Bressan’s multi-disciplinary vision for KAORI entwines both Mediterranean and Asian-influenced design elements with a natural and minimalist undertone. The bright, open, airy space exudes a balance between sophistication and casual comfort that celebrates simplicity through a modest palette of organic materials. Light-toned wall finishes and flooring contrasts with darker design elements, giving the venue a sense of inviting warmth. Lush greenery enlivens the space and adds another layer to the natural look and feel, building onto the connection between the location’s urban setting and nature.